After an unfortunate event on the streets of Boston in 1976, resulting in a head injury to an angry man while working with a 35mm camera, the American artist Mike Smith traded in his Leica for a Linhof Press 23 camera and moved away from spontaneous street photography to more intimate portraits.
He would go on to produce a detailed record of the inhabitants of Boston’s streets in an inclusive, non-judgmental, and yet direct approach. Smith worked with a large camera with an even larger flat unit, a formidable machine that get people’s attention and held it long enough for him to complete the related tasks to operate it successfully. “The driving force, above all, was my whole-hearted embrace of photography as a way of life. As a Vietnam veteran (where I first discovered the medium) at the age of twenty, for the first time, I believed I had a future to pursue.”
About the Author
Mike Smith has been photographing the people and landscape of Southern Appalachia since 1981. Smith’s works document the culture of his home of eastern Tennessee and include portraits, images of vernacular architecture, and activities such as family farming, community events, cockfighting, and coon-hunting.
His work has appeared in many museum exhibitions and publications, including numerous issues of the Sunday New York Times Magazine. A monograph of Smith’s work, You’re Not from Around Here, was published in 2004 by the Center for American Places. He has been Professor of Photography at East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, since 1981.